by Lynn Colburn
Beth Brockschmidt, Eisenhower Elementary’s new principal says it has been a smooth transition to her new position. She says she is still wrapping up a few things at Jacksonville Middle School (JMS) where she was during the course of construction and transition to the new facility, but is enjoying her new school already. “Of course, I will miss working with the terrific middle school staff,” she said, “but the welcome from students and staff at Eisenhower just knocked me out! I couldn’t have hoped for more.”
Brockschmidt had been at Turner Junior High (now JMS) for 12 ½ years. Prior to that she was at JHS for approximately 16 years. “I have been able to see all the levels in the district, with the exception of early childhood, and I it helps to understand all the interconnections with each level. I think it will be very helpful in planning curriculum for the future. Professionally, it’s a wonderful opportunity for me.”
Life has been busy with the mid-semester change. Brockschmidt is not only wrapping up things at JMS and taking over her new position at Eisenhower, but she had some of her continuing training through National Institute for School Leadership (NISL). It is part of on-going training that Brockschmidt and other public and private school educators working in the western Illinois counties are participating in. The timing of training just happened to coincide with beginning her new position. The Tracy Family Foundation, based in Mt. Sterling and supported by Dot Foods, Inc., partners with the NISL to deliver an executive development program for school leaders. The foundation believes quality teachers and quality school leaders are the two factors that impact student learning the most.
About her school change, Brockschmidt said, “At first, I was a little worried about the mid-semester switch, but it has been great.” She said she had been observing periodically during the past semester which had given her an overall idea of what she was coming into. “Things are already in place, routines are set, and students are already comfortable in their environment. Since everything is already established, it makes it much easier to come in and just observe.” Brockschmidt says she has great support in Marcia Gillespie, school secretary, who keeps her up to date on the routines, what has happened in the past and current schedules. Josh Brunaugh has also been there to supervise while she was away at her training. All the staff have been of immense help to her, giving her a heads-up on anything she might need to know which has enabled her to adapt well to her new school.
“Eisenhower is a completely different setting,” said Brockschmidt, “but I’ve been able to do a lot of observing since systems are well set up and running. I’ve even been able to see each of the unusual schedules since we’ve already had all of them in the brief time I’ve been here.”
Brockschmidt has seen arrival and dismissal procedures, recess, early dismissal, early-out days, the two-hour late start option and even a school cancellation day. Lots of schedules that don’t happen often.
On Wednesday, January 24 Eisenhower Elementary held its open house as part of the 150th year of the Jacksonville School District. The evening included music by Mike Anderson, student-led tours of the building, student-presented technology demonstrations, and photo booth, a meet and greet with former and retired staff and refreshments. Brockschmidt said that would be one of her first opportunities to meet some of the parents. But there will be other opportunities in February.
Brockschmidt has already been able to help ease some anxiety of elementary students about transition to Jacksonville Middle School by answering some of their questions, it’s something she can speak about easily. She also says reminding students that Mr. Barlow will be there is a big help for many of the Eisenhower students.
Brockschmidt is enjoying the change, her journey with the students and staff at Eisenhower and will continue to create a learning environment that will lead the students to growth and provide a powerful base that will lead more opportunities and future learning in the district. She will also continue to be a great resource for parents, students and administration when two grades make the transition from the elementary to JMS in the 2018-19 school year.